The Jacksonville Jaguars officially welcomed a dozen new players Wednesday, including two veteran receivers and enough defenders to start revamping one of the worst units in franchise history.
Coach Urban Meyer addressed nearly every position he said he wanted to leading into free agency. Although Jacksonville didn't land any of the biggest names on the market, the Jaguars added at least four surefire starters and important depth that was missing during last year's 1-15 season that led to the firing of general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone.
Jacksonville agreed to sign cornerback Shaquill Griffin (three years, $44.5 million), safety Rayshawn Jenkins (four years, $35 million), defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris (three years, $24.4 million), defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (two years, $6 million), safety Johnathan Ford (two years, $4.2 million) and defensive end Jihad Ward.
The Jaguars also formally announced a trade with New Orleans for defensive tackle Malcom Brown, a 2015 first-round draft pick by New England.
That's seven new defenders — Griffin, Jenkins, Robertson-Harris and Brown are the significant additions of the class and expected to start right away — to go along with re-signing defensive end Dawuane Smoot (two years, $14 million) and cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Tre Herndon.
Jacksonville ranked last in nearly every defensive category in 2020 and allowed a franchise-record 30.75 points a game.
New co-ordinator Joe Cullen and linebackers coach/assistant head coach Charlie Strong are tasked with fixing that side of the ball. They are expected to switch to a 3-4 scheme.
Jacksonville parted with a number of defenders who no longer fit, including cornerbacks Quenton Meeks, Rashaan Melvin and Josh Nurse, and defensive tackles Dontavius Russell, Al Woods and Gabe Wright. Melvin and Woods signed one-year deals last year and then opted out because of the coronavirus pandemic.
There were fewer free-agent additions on offence , partly because Meyer expects to return as many as eight starters on that side.
Meyer failed to revamp the tight end room as planned, although he added run-blocking specialist Chris Manhertz (two years, $7.25 million). He brought in two experienced receivers — Marvin Jones (two years, $14.5 million) and Phillip Dorsett — to mix with a group that includes a pair of second-round draft picks in DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault.
Jones should be an immediate help to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive No. 1 pick in next month's draft. Jones has 423 catches for 6,025 yards and 51 touchdowns, including 32 the last four years with Detroit.
Jacksonville also agreed to sign running back Carlos Hyde (two years, $6 million) and receiver/return man Jamal Agnew (three years, $14.25 million).
The Jaguars also agreed to re-sign tight end James O’Shaughnessy and kicker Aldrick Rosas.
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Mark Long, The Associated Press